Higher air fares aren’t keeping millions of travelers from taking to the skies this summer.
Fuel costs have driven airlines to push through fare increases, pinching travelers’ budgets. Domestic fares are up about 15 percent since 2000, including the addition of fees such as those for checked baggage and reserved seats, according to Airlines for America, a major airline industry group based in Washington, D.C.
The group argues the increase is less than the nation’s broader inflation rate of 31 percent over the same period.
About two-thirds of respondents to a summer travel survey released by consulting firm Deloitte noticed higher fares, but only 16 percent changed their plans. About 43 percent of travelers use carry-on luggage more often, while 40 percent try to book airlines that don’t charge baggage fees.
Nationally, about 206.2 million people are expected to fly on U.S. airlines this summer, on par with last year. That’s an average of 2.24 million travelers a day. Air travel is still down from the 2007 peak.
Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport hasn’t issued a summer forecast yet, but it logged a 6 percent increase in passenger traffic in the first three months of the year. Although a new terminal opened this month to allow for growth in international passengers, that segment is down 1.6 percent so far this year. That’s in part due to flight cuts by Atlanta-based Delta Air Lines.
Overall, about 70 percent of Georgia residents plan to take a summer vacation at least four days long, up 10 percent from last summer, according to a AAA survey released this month. Half expect to spend $1,000 or less, while 39 percent plan to spend $1,001 to $3,000. About 11 percent plan to spend more than $3,000.
Some 38 percent of travelers in Georgia plan to fly, up from 22 percent in 2011. The percentage planning to drive is down from 67 percent in 2011 to 56 percent this summer.
Still, some argue the high price of flying makes other options like driving more attractive, especially for short trips. The cost of flying versus driving for a family of four on a 1,000 mile round trip is $1,441 when flying and $350 when driving, according to the Car Care Council.